Sunday 25th August 2019

Women Of Courage. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

I have known Alicia who is 46, for many years thanks to ‘the old world of Australian blogging’ where I was first a reluctant entry into ‘link ups.’ This blogger friend has had a link up called Open Slather for years. It was on Mondays and now she has moved it to Friday. Do join in! Alicia impressed me from the beginning with her images: photos of her cooking and outdoors where she captures nature in her part of Australia so well. I welcome Alicia to share her story today, and love this image, captured by one of her young daughters! 

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

 

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometime courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. – Mary Anne Radmacher

 

There have many times in my life I have had to call on my courage stores. Plenty of times come to mind when I hadn’t been courageous.

My earliest memory was crossing the rail lines to get to school in the morning. Scared the crap out of me. I may have been a cautious, anxious kid, because it used to frustrate the hell out of mum that I’d turn around and walk back home than to cross the lines.

When I talked to her about it, a true story of courage arose. That of my mum. Twenty four years old with five kids in a small country town, a working husband, no car. She’d walk me half way to school, torn, wanting to take me all the way, but four kids at home on their own. We as women are all courageous, in the way we are responsible for, we struggle and care for our loved ones.

Another time is when Mum asked me get out the car and herd the sheep from behind along the roadside. I would NOT get out of the car. My three-year-old sister did the deed. Gee did mum give me a serve about that. My little sister was the courageous one.

My biggest regret in not being courageous is when as a young mum, I stood in line at the checkout while an older man spewed racist hate at an Asian man who was holding up the line. I could not believe what was coming out of this man’s mouth. My regret was that I never stood forward and said something. No one did. I was angry that my daughters had to listen to such racist filth in this current age. I wish I had of been courageous enough to tell him to stop. Life teaches us many lessons and I will never ever hold back in the same situation again. The Asian man was the one who was courageous.

Most of my calls for courage, I guess anxiety and self-doubt have played a part. I have noticed that calling on my courage stores was easier when I was going through more confident stages of my life.

Meeting new people, taking the step of starting a new job, getting through tough things like my sons’ diagnosis of schizophrenia and the crap that was involved before and after that. It takes courage to keep pushing on in the face of uncertainty.

Even to this day, I must occasionally talk myself into making phone calls or walking into the school gates and be social! I know it’s easy and doesn’t take that much courage, but I let my brain convince me it’s a difficult task!

 

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I am not sure if it has changed me in any way. I guess it’s made me more aware that I can get through things that maybe my brain was telling me were going to be hard. The funny thing is when it’s all over, it really isn’t that bad. It has given me the tools to face adversity the next time and made me realise I am capable and worthy of confidence in myself that I can do the hard stuff.

I feel I am more persistent and resilient in my approach to tasks.

I am often amazed at how well I cope in a crisis. My brain then seems to snap into survival mode, and I push through under pressure. My brain doesn’t have time to talk me out of it. This ability would come after some experience too. It’s the time after that I need a break to re-centre myself.

 

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I learned that no matter how tough you think something is going to be, the courage to get through it is already inside of you. It is not something you have to make, it’s there. Don’t overthink the situation and only cross bridges once you come to them. In most situations, your brain can be your worst enemy, the key is to listen to the positive more often than you listen to your negative talk. Tell yourself, “I can do this!”.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

The more I put myself out of my comfort zone, the more confident I become in facing life’s hurdles. The hurdles are bloody inconvenient, and I often question the universe if it thinks I’ve had my fair share already. They say practice makes perfect!

I am however aware that my problems are dwarfed by others, there are so many who are doing it way tougher than me and I am amazed at how courageous they are. They provide inspiration for me to draw on.

The courage of others always inspires me. I have learned that some of those courageous things are just everyday ordinary things and some life changing. Everyone is challenged by something, no matter how big or small.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

The more steps you take everyday out of your comfort zone and facing your fears, the more able and confident you become in facing fears. Life is hard. I think having supportive people around you to help is important and not being afraid to accept that help. I think it is also helpful to have someone who knows what you’re going through at any time to talk to, so you don’t feel so alone in your struggles.

Oh wow. Lots of messages there for me to learn too. Thank you so much Alicia. I loved that we have been on-line friends for ages. Maybe one day we will actually meet!

Denyse.

Blog/Website: https://onemotherhen.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alleychook

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/One-Mother-Hen-243699915749847/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aliciaonemotherhen/

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #10. Tegan Churchill. 80/2019.

Trigger Warning: Self-Harm, Mental Illness.

 

 

Women of Courage Series. #10. Tegan Churchill. 80/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

I have known Tegan who is 31, for many years thanks to ‘the old world of Australian blogging’ where I was first incredibly impressed with her education focus for her son as he entered formal schooling. I continue to be in awe of the time as a volunteer Tegan now gives to her son’s primary school. Her school is fortunate to have her support in many ways. I welcome Tegan to share her story today. 


What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

Becoming a parent is still the most courageous thing I have faced in my life. Before I became a parent, I was hellbent on destroying myself. Having a child gave me a purpose and something other than myself to care for. For the first time in my life, I felt that I had a purpose.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Before I fell pregnant I spent more time in psychiatric wards than I did out. My treatment team were preparing my family for when I would take my own life, not if. I was sent to prison after attempting to rob a chemist. I was seeking drugs to overdose on. I had no intention of hurting anyone but myself.

Finding out I was pregnant was a shock. Children were never on my radar. I didn’t want to be a parent. Yet, this small person changed my life in ways that I could never have imagined. He changed my life for the better. He gave me a purpose and a reason to be alive. How could I hurt myself and leave him behind?

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Having a child isn’t the answer. A child isn’t a possession. I know that I was lucky that it was the catalyst that I needed. For many people it isn’t. I wouldn’t change having my child for all the money in the world but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t also the hardest thing I have ever done.

I also learned that courage isn’t doing everything on your own. Courage can also be learning when to ask for help. I learned that courage doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr. It really does take a village to raise a child.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Having a small person to fight for has given me the courage to fight for myself. I realised that in order to give him the parent that he needed and deserved, I needed to help myself too. Fighting for treatment for my son gave me the courage to fight for my own treatment. For many years I had simply accepted the treatment I was given, convinced that it was what I deserved. Being the carer for a child with additional needs allowed me to learn to fight for myself. I realised that I couldn’t give from an empty cup.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Break down any challenge into easy to complete tasks. Give yourself rewards for getting through and be gentle with yourself. It’s ok to admit that you are scared, anxious or that you simply can’t do something yet. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to accept help that is offered. Sometimes our courage is borrowed and that’s perfectly fine too.

Thank you so much Tegan for your courageous account in this post. I am so pleased you decided to share your story.

Denyse.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

 

 

Social Media. 

Blog/Website: http://www.musingsofthemisguided.com

 

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/misguidedmuser

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Telling My Story. Chapter Six. Becoming Mum. 1971. 2018.100.

Telling My Story. Chapter Six. Becoming Mum. 1971. 2018.100

Since May 2017 I started telling my story. There have been major gaps of time in between the introduction and Chapter One when a little thing called head and neck cancer took up my time and attention. I am celebrating yet again…with a new smile…

New photo to celebrate my new ‘teeth’ and smile!

However, I would like to pay tribute to my first photo for this series…and the second one too. It’s been quite a time!

Taken on my 67th Birthday – late 2016. Cancer unknown but it was ‘there’

One year post major cancer surgeries.

Chapter Five. Becoming a Mother. 

We were young at 22 (my husband) and me 21 but we knew we loved each other unconditionally and we were going to become parents within the first 8 months of our marriage and that we were already teachers working hard in country N.S.W.

By the time we got to the July appointments with the local G.P. in the town closest to where we lived, things seemed to be going well. I had stopped teaching (and was already bored), but I had a nursery to organise (aka a spare room) and my husband was building our first child a cradle. Mum ensured we had some items like clothing and manchester in the previous school holidays when we visited my parents in Sydney. I think once she was over ‘the shock’ of me being a pregnant bride, she relished her grandmother-to-be role.

A Pregnancy Gets Complicated. 

The next visit I had to my G.P. raised alarm for him when my previous weight had ballooned by around 6 kg in a short time and it was all-fluid. He needed to send me on…to a specialist Obstetrician Gynaecologist in the city that served our north-west region. Yes, now it was serious. And yes, I was more than a bit scared.

Where we lived, in this little cottage on a farming property, access to our place was via a dirt track, which led to the road which was one not bitumened. When it rained, and we got warning, my husband would drive the car to the road and we would walk through the mud and wet to the car. That is what we had to do on the morning of the scary-t0-me visit to the OB/Gyn at T. A trip that would be punctuated by slippery sliding of the car (but my husband knew what he was doing) and me being quite frankly terrified.

Even moreso when we got to the office in T, and with kindness but showing concerned care, Dr G decided I had what was called ‘toxaemia’ then and I needed bedrest, diuretics and that was to be in a hospital. A hospital! Where I would know no-one and it was confronting. I had a stay in a shared ward with other mothers-to-be at risk for a week. It remains as a memory of a pretty worrying time (and I was not a fan of hospitals). Not seeing my husband nor anyone I knew was very isolating. My parents were 6 hours away by car.

Playing the Waiting Game At Home.

However, I was released when Dr G said things had settled and he sent me home with instructions to rest and eat plenty of lollies (I never knew why, but happy to comply) and to return on a specific evening around what was my due date and the process of induction would commence.

Another weird thing (in today’s terms) I had to have was an X-ray of my pelvis to see if the baby was lying properly. The X-ray showed there was a slight placenta previa. When we saw the Dr he did not think it would preclude natural labour.

I was better prepared for my next stay in the large regional hospital…even though it was going to make me a mother! We drove to T after my husband had finished teaching and that early evening on a Wednesday entered the maternity award and he reluctantly said good bye. In a pre-labour ward (4 beds) I was given ‘something in the form of a gel’  to start labour. Umm. Nope, it did nothing. More. Still nothing. All day the next day, niggly pains but nothing of significance. By the time Dr G visited on the Thursday evening he took me to a labour room, accompanied by a nurse and he ‘broke my waters’ finding some blood. He was not perturbed as he thought it was connected with the marginal placenta previa.

Would I Ever Give Birth?

I felt that way on the Friday. I had no real idea of what labour would feel like other than it would be painful. I was in the hands of the experts…and those who were trained in the safe delivery of babies. On the Friday morning I was taken to a more scary room! I say that because it had a bed (for me) and many instruments and hospital things I had no idea about. I had a nurse with me on and off but generally I was alone. My husband was teaching (of course) but at lunchtime, he rang the labour ward to ask if things had started. He was told “no” and was instructed to stay home instead of leaving at 3 p.m. to drive the 2 hours to T. Outside even though I could not see it, I could hear it was very windy and raining. It was early August and the late afternoon turned into early evening with me  saying ” I am going to be sick”. I wasn’t but I had decided I was ‘over it’ and using the only pain relief – a gas mask – along with clutching my lovely midwife’s hand I really had NO IDEA I was near giving birth. This was, as I know now, transition.

Things sure changed from around 5 p.m. and by 6 p.m. in raced Dr G in whites…squash gear. He’d got the phone call that I was labouring (no-one told me LOL) and presented himself quick smart. With a quick application of gloves, and a gown, I pushed our daughter into his hands with no pain relief…although I think I may have bruised the lovely midwife’s hand.

10/10.

At 6.35 pm this child was pronounced 10/10. I had no idea it was an apgar score and teacher-me thought it was about my effort!!

I “think” our girl was placed in a crib – there was no bonding much then nor anything like putting baby to the breast. I delivered the placenta – and was shown where the ‘breaking of the waters’ had cut into it. Interesting!

But the best part, evenso, was hearing Dr G speak to my husband who was so far away to congratulate him on becoming a father. I did not get to speak to him but was assured that he was on his way to see us.

I had given birth and was a MUM!

In the way of those times in the early 1970s, our child was placed in a crib in a nursery with all the other babies, and I was in a shared ward. She would be brought to me for feeding and nothing else and then returned. Her Dad got to meet her behind a glass window around 9 p.m. that night, and then when greeting me, said in that romantic way: “She’s got my long fingers and your fat cheeks.”  It did not matter! I was over-the-moon in what I now know is a wonderful post-partum feeling of endorphins. Reluctantly my husband left to return home in the raging weather but with his mate (my principal-boss) who had driven on a really horrible night.

And then it began. 

Breastfeeding was what I wanted to do and tried. Oh yes I did. With nipple shields but also with ignorance too. There was some help given but not much. My parents, my grandfather and aunt surprised me (us) with a visit on the weekend. I admit I was not gracious. I couldn’t believe they had come and uttered “what are you doing here??” Unbeknowns to me (and my husband) it was my father’s decision to have my relatives catch a train to Sydney, then he met them and they drove, in rotten winter weather for 6 hours to see us. Fortunately my ill-mannered reaction was ignored and they all saw her (via the window) and stayed overnight before the long drive back home.

Almost a week later we were discharged. Mum flew up to accompany us home ( I am guessing we needed help but do not remember if we asked for it) and in the meantime, bought a stroller/pram and other goodies for her first grandchild and granddaughter. Miss almost 1 week was brought out to the car by a nurse and placed in my arms and then I gave her to her Dad. He had not yet held her. It was not done then. I can tell you I do believe bonding is vital and she did not get much in her early days because of hospital rules.

We drove home, a long night ahead, and I held her in my arms. Yes there were seatbelts but no baby restraints, just put them in a basket on the back seat. Mum sat there and we kept our daughter in the front.

I would like to tell you all went well. In many ways it did. She was/is a much loved child. Her maternal grandparents were overly attentive but meant well. Her paternal grandparents visited us in the next school holidays with some of her uncles and aunts and she was welcomed into the family. There was not a lot I enjoyed about being a mother to a newborn. Feeding was a challenge and at a 6 week check up at the clinic, I was strongly urged to forget feeding her myself and start her on a bottle.

Early Months of Motherhood.

We lived in an isolated area and we had one car. Each Wednesday my husband would drive us to his school and then  I would take over and drive to the small town near us. This involved some small socialisation – visits to the clinic and to various shops. Home again. I know I looked for distraction from the tedium of those early months. She was a good baby once her colic settled and loved trying custard and foods like that. I was bored and needed more. So I cooked. I also ate what I cooked and I believe that IS where a lot of my eating to mask feelings commenced.

Denyse.

P.S. I wrote this after Chapter 4 as I wanted to keep identifiers from the story. Please tell me if you think it detracts from what I am writing. Thank you.

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!

 

 

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